Does anyone care if there are comics at a comic-con?

201105030235 Does anyone care if there are comics at a comic con?
While we were checking out our ego Google alert, we found a response to our brief critique of a piece on the Anaheim Comic-Con that didn’t mention a single comics type person. The writer of the piece, one Matt Patches, says he was right to stay mute on comics, because everyone expects to find comics and cartoonists at a comic-con so it is not noteworthy enough to report:

This evolution is sweeping the comic convention scene — more and more, “comic” is becoming a stand-in word for “nerd/genre culture,” — and it’s necessary for everyone’s business. If Wizard World (or any comic con) wants to appeal to a broader audience (and maintain their ability to run the convention), they have to widen their scope, conjure up events that breach the reaches of conventional comic topics. You need Tricia Helfer there to peak interests. On the flip side, I feel inclined to spotlight what Wizard World feels are their biggest sells, because, heck, I want people to go to the show. New people, even!

If anyone is already sold on attending a comic convention, it’s comic buffs. That’s why when you navigate the ACC homepage, you’ll still find names like Ethan Van Sciver, Bernie Wrightson, Judd Winick, Mike Grell, Mark Texeira, Michael Golden, Bill Sienkiewicz and Rob Liefeld, but you’ll find them buried underneath the twin sisters from Death Proof (who?). You’d think Liefeld might have the muscle to push his way to the front of the pack, but it’s just not true anymore.


Those twins would be Electra and Elise Avellan, twin nieces of director Robert Rodriguez.

Now, I’ve seen a line of people at a show for Rob Liefeld. I’ve seen LONG lines for Robert Kirkman, Geoff Johns, David Mazzucchelli, Kate Beaton, Walt Simonson, David Finch and many many other comics people. I don’t know how many want to meet these nice girls, but I would love someone to go to a Wizard World and take a picture of the line for their autograph. I think it is debatable who is a bigger draw.

And it turns out only one of these twins even wants to stay in acting. Elise has a different career in mind:

What I’m actually involved in right now is that I’m managing my dad’s cheese company in Austin, Texas. We make my grandfather’s recipe of cheese in Austin. We make it out of raw milk and we sell it in the farmer’s markets. The name of it is “Dos Lunas.” It means two moons. It’s a lot of fun. We love it there. I still shoot movies with Robert and my sister in Austin. Like I said [before], it’s not my scene. That’s what I’m doing right now—I’m just managing a cheese company.


Seriously now, are you really going to pay $35 to stand in line to meet a women who manages a cheese company?

Patches concludes his piece with a comparison to a true comics convention — MoCCA — but declares that:

the bigger cons have evolved, and like Jack Shephard, we need to move on.


Sorry, Mister Patches (that’s his twitter handle), but I’m not moving on for a cheese company manager, even if she is hot.

Not that I expect this culture clash to go away any time soon. Or for cartoonists to ultimately win out. But I’m going to go down fighting.

Comments

  1. Scott Wright says:

    You can find hot babes anywhere,so obviously this writer is in the wrong business and should probably sell insurance or be a lawyer..or a politician…most are either lawyers or businessmen…histories ultimate cynic and smooth operator…whether they’re aware of it or not…probably not.

  2. Scott Wright says:

    You can find hot babes anywhere,so obviously this writer is in the wrong business and should probably sell insurance or be a lawyer..or a politician…most are either lawyers or businessmen…histories ultimate cynic and smooth operator…whether they’re aware of it or not…probably not.

  3. ChristopherH says:

    I hate to disappoint Mr. Patches, but it is still possible to go to a comic book convention that remains primarily devoted to comics. Comics enthusiasts simply need to look for all the smaller conventions that dot the landscape. At Denver’s recent comics convention, panels ran the gamut from teaching comcs and OGNs in high school and college, to the art of drawing covers, to superheros and religion, to inking, to comics in the age of the ipad, and on and on. When I asked him about the composition of one of the covers he was signing for me, one of the artists in attendance, J. Scott Campbell, even gave me a five minute dicussion of how he drew each of the four books I had brought for signature. It was fascinating. I’m not sure I disagree that convention culture (I won’t even call it nerd culture because I’m not sure that is any more an apt description) has broadened–but it just isn’t accurate to say that comics enthusiasts have been marginalized. There is something for everyone if we are willing to look hard enough.

  4. ChristopherH says:

    I hate to disappoint Mr. Patches, but it is still possible to go to a comic book convention that remains primarily devoted to comics. Comics enthusiasts simply need to look for all the smaller conventions that dot the landscape. At Denver’s recent comics convention, panels ran the gamut from teaching comcs and OGNs in high school and college, to the art of drawing covers, to superheros and religion, to inking, to comics in the age of the ipad, and on and on. When I asked him about the composition of one of the covers he was signing for me, one of the artists in attendance, J. Scott Campbell, even gave me a five minute dicussion of how he drew each of the four books I had brought for signature. It was fascinating. I’m not sure I disagree that convention culture (I won’t even call it nerd culture because I’m not sure that is any more an apt description) has broadened–but it just isn’t accurate to say that comics enthusiasts have been marginalized. There is something for everyone if we are willing to look hard enough.

  5. Torsten Adair says:

    There are “big tent” conventions of every size… most regional SF/Fantasy cons use this model to attract the greatest number of people. Star Trek, Star Wars, gamers, comic books, artists, writers, NASA, costumers, model makers… they all get their geek on.

    Can a comics-only convention succeed? Sure. Baltimore, Orlando, Charlotte, MoCCA, SPX all spotlight comics. Can a convention become huge and not lose focus? Sure, look at Anime Expo (in Anaheim). Or Angoulême.

  6. Torsten Adair says:

    There are “big tent” conventions of every size… most regional SF/Fantasy cons use this model to attract the greatest number of people. Star Trek, Star Wars, gamers, comic books, artists, writers, NASA, costumers, model makers… they all get their geek on.

    Can a comics-only convention succeed? Sure. Baltimore, Orlando, Charlotte, MoCCA, SPX all spotlight comics. Can a convention become huge and not lose focus? Sure, look at Anime Expo (in Anaheim). Or Angoulême.

  7. Shannon OLeary says:

    That’s a shame, really t because, anecdotally, it sounded like there were a LOT of good cartoonists there – Derek Kirk Kim, Jen Wang and Andy Ristaino were all tabling.

  8. Shannon OLeary says:

    That’s a shame, really t because, anecdotally, it sounded like there were a LOT of good cartoonists there – Derek Kirk Kim, Jen Wang and Andy Ristaino were all tabling.

  9. Matthew Southworth says:

    The real attraction in that picture is not the absolutely beautiful twins. . .it’s ROBERT RODRIGUEZ. The guy who actually MADE something.

    I think this is just the roll-out of the celebrity wave. Just as we saw the images of the dismal reception to the Reality Show convention, I think people are becoming bored with celebrity for its own sake. I sure am.

    It’s just like with music or movies or whatever–people watch the Royal Wedding because they’re being told EVERYone’s watching it, and they don’t want to feel left out. But even people who aren’t particularly interested in art get bored with vapidity.

    I don’t think that conventions can survive purely on the crowd-drawing power of artists and writers, but I do think this is the swell of the balloon; after the bust, the oversold convention scene will calm down again and take a lot of the crowds away, and there will still be a place to meet people who make comics and love comics.

    And conventions right now still offer that–so I think that it’s a good thing! Let people pay to meet hot twins; that means more money for the convention to also fly out the Bernie Wrightsons and the Geof Darrows.

  10. So, if there are no celebrities at a convention there will be no crowds? Awesome. Sign me up for THAT show.

  11. Nick Jones says:

    The Baltimore Comic-con is doing perfectly well with comics as the main attraction. I can’t remember ever seeing a celebrity there other than Lou Ferrigno, who sat at a little table looking sad because nobody was coming over to talk to him.

    Also, I would be more willing to pay $35 to talk to a woman who makes cheese than some celebrity (or Rob Liefeld, frankly).

  12. Boston Comic Con is all comics focused and it’s been doing very well. There’s plenty of room for both.

  13. Heidi-
    another great article, observation on the Comic Con Scene. Calling Wizard World out for lackluster focus on COMIC BOOKS seemes redundant. They have a plan to attract newbies, and sell the COMIC CON name as a pop culture event. I’ve written about this extensively on my website http://comicCONMEN.com

    And as other people have commented- there are other shows that might fit your interests more if you are looking for truly a COMIC convention. I think Baltimore works here, and I’m partial to plug the AMAZING ARIZONA COMIC CON which i organize and promote…

    But different shows have different flavors-
    Heroes Con in NC is a ART/Commission show more than anything else, APE/SPX feature small press, Dragon Con puts premium on costuming. and the list continues. If any of these particular aspects are an attendees main area of fun, there seems to be places which fit the bill…

    Writing articles about Wizard placing their focus on nostalgia C-List Celebs though isn’t groundbreaking though. I think a more alarming (?) aspect is that there are other conventions that more or less try to copy the Wizard formula. When does it a situation a xerox is copied again and again, what happens eventually?

    OK that might be a bunch to chew on…

    Best-
    Jimmy S. Jay…
    Convention Organizer, Retailer, and comicCONMEN.com

  14. Carol Kalish used to say that comics stores should put CASPER, ARCHIE and alt-comix in their shop windows, because shop windows were for attracting foot traffic. And any Spider-Man or Batman fan seeing that display would know they could get their comics inside, but a casual stroller seeing an all-superhero display might very well not know that what they might like was inside.

    But at least that was all comics. Put movie posters up front, and it’s rather a different effect.

  15. I think the cheese company girl sounds like she’s got it all together. Serious!

  16. Snikt Snakt says:

    “Seriously now, are you really going to pay $35 to stand in line to meet a women who manages a cheese company?”

    Speak for yourself. Cheesy girls are AWESOME! :-P

  17. This article really sucks and is really pointless! I expected a decent article and end up getting a tiny article that seems like two articles. I mean, what is this article really about?: Comics matter at comic conventions or twin girls making cheese? This writer needs to stay on topic and talk about girls in another article!

    Do comics matter at comic cons? Yes, they do! If I am looking for a brand new, exiciting title from a current or old group of creators (like Charismagic from Aspen Comics), I want to be able to buy that the book at the con! Or if I am looking for a old and hard to find and/or out of print book, the vendors are there to find and sell me the book. Get the idea?

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